Tag Archives: Jesus

They Don’t Live Jesus Every Other Day

Even though I had yet to fully process through it, or barely even recognize it, seeing Jesus in small moments (that somehow weren’t small at all) began before I even left the Atlanta airport to head to Guatemala City.

live Jesus every other day

I had just posted this status update to Facebook:

“So early morning flights still aren’t my favorite. But really. How many other times do I get to sit in relative silence drinking coffee, staring out the window at a sunrise over Atlanta, and watching a city come to life? There’s something rather life-giving and refreshing about this moment. Preparing my heart to be fully present in every moment, encounter, and opportunity the Lord provides over the next few days. #serveguate”

And I meant every word of it.

I had just been sitting at the window near my gate (caramel latte from Caribou in hand) as the sun came up, spending some time in prayer, and specifically asking for help to be fully present in each encounter I was given.

But then I switched seats because I knew my friends and travel companions would be arriving from their respective flights soon.

I was texting, facebook messaging, and tweeting to keep track of of the rest of the team leaving from Houston, and I was looking forward to the moment when we would all be together in just a few short hours.

He approached me in a moment when my eyes were still glued to the screen … distracted and anything but fully present.

A Guatemalan himself, he started talking about all the gifts he was taking back to his family that were sure to be under-appreciated.

Truthfully, I have no idea why. I was only halfway paying attention at that point, and it took a couple of minutes for me to recognize that my prayer for being fully present in every encounter was being answered far sooner than I had anticipated.

So as I put my phone down (because those messages and conversations could wait…), the conversation wrapped itself around to why I was going to Guatemala. What would I be doing and where would I be staying?

I told him that I was going on a mission trip with a team of about 20 people to spread the name and love of Jesus Christ and that we would be staying somewhere in Antigua (but I didn’t really know exactly where). We would be serving in various places around Antigua as well as in Guatemala City in the community around the garbage dump.

He nodded and acknowledged that he knew the area and then began to explain how Guatemala City is divided into several different zones. I didn’t understand all of it, but it sounded interesting.

He then expressed his disapproval and disappointment that we were staying in Antigua. In his words, “It’s too American. You need to go outside of the city to experience true Guatemala.”

I said that I appreciated his perspective and that I would love to travel further outside of the cities someday.

But he wasn’t finished yet.

He began to describe the processionals – “They’re like a big parade. Beautiful. Colorful. Many days.” – that take place in Antigua the week before Easter. Holy week. He encouraged me to come down to see them one year. And to spend more time there. He was grateful that we were going to spend time in his country, “but five days is so short.”

“Because Guatemalans love to celebrate Easter, but they don’t live Jesus every other day of the year.”

And then he ended the conversation and walked away.

I’m not sure what this man’s name was and I’m not sure if he knew Jesus personally (though I got the impression that he did not, which made his observation all the more fascinating), but that’s not a conversation I will soon forget.

And I can’t help but pray that, by God’s grace, I would live Jesus every other day of the year.

Not just on Holidays. Not just on Sundays.

Every. Other. Day.

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Guatemala :: Because He Was and Is Enough

I have so much to share with you about my time in Guatemala … and the more I process, the more I want to share!

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I wanted so badly to express some of what the Lord did in and through this trip last week, but I ended up sick promptly upon my return home and just didn’t have it in me to do much more than work and then plant myself on the couch before crashing for the night and pushing through the next day. Forming coherent thoughts that captured the trip or the Lord’s hand at work with any sort of justice seemed near impossible.

My energy level has been slow to return, and I’m still processing, but I couldn’t let another day pass without entering into this space to say thank you. For praying, for encouraging, for supporting … both me and the team I was privileged to serve alongside.

But really, how do you begin to express or explain something that you can’t quite even label or name yet? I know the Lord did something, and is still DOING something, in and through this trip and this heart He’s given me for Guatemala. But putting that something into words?

Well, it’s challenging … almost as if it’s still partially veiled. As if I’m not even supposed to be able to put it into words just yet. As if there’s something still being formed.

And while my eyes have been opened to it and I’ve been given a front row seat to it, I’m still watching the first act. There’s still some ground to cover before the characters fully develop or the plot begins to make some sense.

But oh, I saw the Lord move on this trip. I never expected not to, but I also want to intentionally stop and take the time to say it, to praise Him for it, to acknowledge that those prayers I prayed, those requests that had been on my heart for weeks, if not months – that I asked you to pray along with me – He answered! Not necessarily how I would have expected. But He answered.

God is so faithful.

And He so graciously honored the step I took in obedience and faith to go.

Because that’s this God we serve!

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Before I left, I knew I needed to let go of the expectations I was bringing along, which in and of itself was hard since the last trip in February had been so powerful.

And this trip was certain to be different.

But I also knew that the door had been so obviously and creatively opened for me to go back that this trip needed to be all His.

For whatever reason, He wanted me there. And even though that reason was unknown to me, there was freedom in knowing that I could follow Him back to Guatemala, be fully present in each moment, and trust Him to do the rest.

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But honestly? That is still not my default. And that was not easy.

I didn’t want this trip to be about me, but at so many points, I found myself desperately seeking and searching for a reason, for an emotional connection, for an obvious and out-loud purpose for being back in this country that I have come to love so dearly.

As a result, the Lord and I had an ongoing conversation – a sort of internal wrestling and crying out on my part and truth-filled, yet gentle and loving replies on His – for the majority of this trip. I wanted a reason. I wanted to understand my place and my purpose. And I wanted to not react so negatively to the uncertainty around and within me.

I felt emotionally disconnected. The culture shock was gone this time, and as I walked around Antigua on the first day, everything seemed so familiar. Even the smell at the Guatemala City dump the next day didn’t overwhelm all of my senses in the same way as before.

guate4While part of that was okay, I didn’t expect to feel quite so detached. I watched as my team reacted to all of it as I had before, as I would have expected to react again. I watched the tears and the brokenness and the feelings of helplessness come over them, and I couldn’t help but think something was terribly wrong with me. How could I not react with the same level of emotion? How could I not feel more?

I didn’t want to come across as uncaring or lacking in compassion … because that’s not what was going on, either … but nothing was coming out in the way of obvious emotion or reaction and it could not be forced.

So I found myself getting quiet and still before the Lord. I found myself hanging around the edges of the group at times to process the lack of emotion and to continue this conversation with the only One who knew my heart and thoughts even better than I did. The only One who could really see and speak truth into what was going on inside of me.

And as we continued this conversation that literally lasted for days, as I talked and as I listened, I sensed the Lord saying,

“Am I not enough?”

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Even in the way I heard it, in the negative form, had to be Him. Because only He would know that’s what would best get my attention in that moment.

Because I wasn’t acting like He was enough. I was so focused on figuring out why I was there that I was missing the part about just being obedient in following and being with Him, in His presence, in Guatemala.

That’s all He ever asked. He never promised an obvious reason or that I would know another specific purpose … or that there would even BE another specific purpose.

And no matter what story (or straight up lies!) my emotions tried to tell, I could rest in that. Knowing that following Him to the place where He leads is always the right place.

Jesus was already in Guatemala.

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He didn’t need me this time any more than He needed me the first time, but He invited me to join Him there again. To join Him in doing the work, to be His hands and feet, to partner with ministries who had established and long-term relationships in their respective communities, to humbly enter into the lives of others – if only for a brief moment – to love and serve them well and to be fully present in each opportunity.

And in that place, I saw Jesus move in blue paint, in blowing bubbles, in big brown eyes that held your gaze, in smiles and much laughter, and in holding hands. I saw Jesus in small moments that somehow weren’t small at all.

Because He was and is enough.

And those are the stories I will be sharing with you here over the next few weeks.

Because those stories matter. Entering into the lives of others, even for the briefest of moments, makes a difference … to you AND to them. And the small moments that make up our everyday realities are never wasted when they are fully surrendered to Jesus.

5 Things

1. Coffee shop conversation is my love language.

5Things

2. This quote has been swirling around my mind since I read it several days ago:

“So we don’t risk at random, jumping off any cliff. We risk jumping obediently where God says to jump.” – Jennie Allen

See the whole context in this post.

3. Apparently starting too many new things at once makes me anxious. Logically, I know there’s no good reason for the anxiety. And while I’m learning some good coping mechanisms (for the record, good sleep does wonders for restored perspective!), really, this hasn’t been something I’ve been able to fully attack on my own.

I’m beyond serious when I say I think there’s been an element of spiritual warfare in this. I’m entering into a new season of ministry (in more than one area), and I’m SO excited about all of it, but it’s also not something I can do on my own. Each ministry I’m involved in requires absolute dependence on Christ. Which is awesome. In the truest sense of the word. But I’m thinking the enemy cannot be too pleased with this heightened awareness of my desperate, moment-by-moment need to walk by the Spirit, and he seems to have been working on overdrive to fire his flaming arrows my way as a result.

But oh, the power of prayer in the midst! And when I have no idea what to pray, simply saying the name of Jesus over and over again is somehow enough. And perhaps more powerful than anything else I could possibly think to add.

4. After two weeks of complete silence in this space, I’m back at blogging and there’s some good stuff coming in September … starting Tuesday, so be sure to check back then!

5. And this. Because Jesus is so good, and we don’t even make sense apart from Him:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – Jesus
John 15:5 (ESV)

For When the Words Don’t Come

I sit and stare at a blank screen, distraction free, all white space except for the two light gray words in the bottom right hand corner encouraging me to “just write.”

I have thoughts and ideas suitable for full-length and substantial posts.

But the words just don’t come.

Moving from thoughts and ideas to coherent and well-written sentences seems impossible, burdensome, heavy.

I love the process of writing. The release that it brings. I enjoy the experience of blogging.

But I feel weighed down by the practical issues and responsibilities of life this side of the computer screen. Somehow unable to reawaken the creative energy necessary to keep going, to press on, to continue when the blank screen stares back.

I have even uttered five of the saddest words to my soul, “I want to quit blogging.”

But I don’t really want to quit. I simply feel uninspired, unmotivated and exhausted. I’m in a lull of sorts.

And while picking up and heading to the beach – allowing the expanse of the ocean, the peacefulness of the shore to restore my perspective – sounds close to the perfect solution, that is simply not a possibility at the moment.

One of my dearest friends suggests that I should read. Anything. Finally taking her up on that advice, I read something relatively easy and mindless. And it feels good. Refreshing even.

Yet I still find myself coming up short in the words department.

My mom suggests that I should focus my thoughts on gratitude. So I begin a list of the small, trivial, forgotten and everyday things for which I’m grateful. I quickly list 25 items in a matter of moments.

Knowing I have been blessed far beyond what I deserve and saddened by the reality that I fail to acknowledge it far too often, I purposefully and intentionally seek opportunities to get out of myself. To serve others. Even when all I want to do is retreat. To fold in rather than reach out.

I take action and make commitments. Some of them relatively easy, others seemingly big and life-changing.

And I give myself a break from the guilt that so often wears me down. Of not doing enough. Of doing too much. Of lacking proper balance.

My thoughts turn to Scripture, so I read John 6:22-71.

“Jesus answered them…’Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal…For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to this world…I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst…It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.'”

– John 6:26, 27, 33, 35, 63 (ESV – emphasis added)

And I am reminded that Jesus is the bread of life.

When my words just. don’t. come.

His words are life.

Jesus is [More Than] Enough

I could literally burst with excitement about this message!

But I’m trying to contain myself enough to at least form a handful of coherent sentences.  (You can thank me later…)

Here’s the thing: a title like I chose for this post could go A LOT of different ways.  And where I’m going with it may seem a little “off the beaten path”, but I am choosing to trust the Holy Spirit on this one and to roll with it.

You see, I had a completely different devo post in mind for this week.  But I’ve spent the last two days praying over my half-written post because it just. wasn’t. working.

[At least not yet.]

And maybe it was because the Lord had something better.

For me and for you.

I am fairly confident that I have mentioned a time or two (or a hundred) that I’m taking Koine Greek as part of my seminary studies.  Well, tonight (and tomorrow) began a new semester of said Greek studies, and at the end of class we were reading and discussing John 4:7-14 in the Greek (which actually has very little to do with this post, but I would encourage you to go read it for context anyways).

As we were reading, I was struck with a [what I have always deemed to be sacrilegious] thought that has plagued me before:

“Conversations in Scripture (even between Jesus and others) often seem to be abbreviated and/or poeticized…perhaps to reflect the nature and direction of a given conversation in order to emphasize the important elements rather than a word-for-word recording of said conversation.”

Maybe I’m the only one who thinks this?  It’s just that I tend to be wordy (shocking, right?) and detailed in my conversations, and rarely do I have conversations as succinct as they appear in Scripture.  And it’s not like they walked around with voice recorders back in those days…

But tonight, as I was processing this thought, I was promptly reminded of the following:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God
and profitable for teaching, for reproof,
for correction, and for training in righteousness,
that the man of God may be competent,
equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16 (English Standard Version)

If “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (which I firmly believe that it is), then whether or not conversations throughout its pages are “word-for-word recordings” is irrelevant.

Why?

Because the words that ARE recorded are what matters.

Because the words that ARE recorded are the important elements.

Because the words that ARE recorded are the exact parts of the conversations that we were intended to read about and know.

ESPECIALLY when it comes to the words of Jesus.

And as my professor had to use no less than four or five English words (words including “fountain, bubbling, and overflowing”) to define and describe the phrase “welling up” as it occurs in John 4:14…

“The water that I will give him
will become in him a spring of water
welling up to eternal life.”
(ESV – emphasis added)

…I was made keenly aware that as an example for how my conversations with others should go, as an example for sharing the gospel, as an example of how life is to be lived, and as the essence of life itself

Jesus’ words are enough.

Jesus is enough.

Jesus is MORE THAN enough.

Merry Christmas

“And the angel said to them,

‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy

that will be for all the people. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David

a Savior, who is Christ the Lord

And this will be a sign for you:

you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths

lying in a manger.’ 

And suddenly there was with the angel

a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’”

Luke 2:10-14 (English Standard Version – emphasis added)

 

 

Merry Christmas!

Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring

I have a bit of a fascination with origins. 

Of anything and everything.

So recently when I was listening to Celtic Woman’s version of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” (which I happen to love), I began to wonder if the standard modern lyrics were original to the piece…or at least an accurate translation of the original lyrics.

Honestly, I wasn’t even certain that the original piece had lyrics…and even if it did, I wasn’t certain of the original language or if Johann Sebastian Bach had written them when he composed the piece or not.

Well, according to Wikipedia (which I’ll agree has its limitations, but sometimes proves quite helpful), the German lyrics to the 10th movement of the cantata in which this song appears (BWV 147) are as follows:

“Jesus bleibet meine Freude,
meines Herzens Trost und Saft,
Jesus wehret allem Leide,
er ist meines Lebens Kraft,
meiner Augen Lust und Sonne,
meiner Seele Schatz und Wonne;
darum laß’ ich Jesum nicht
aus dem Herzen und Gesicht.”

Now, I must confess, I don’t know German, but thanks to Google Translate (among others…), the most literal translation of the above appears to be:

“Jesu, joy,

My heart [comfort] and juice,

Jesus all suffering,

He is my life;

My eyes [desire] and sun,

My precious soul and bliss;

Therefore, I do not let Jesus

From the heart and face.”

Take a moment to reflect on that translation. 

“Jesu…my juice.”  My essence.  My being.  “My life.”

Powerful stuff! 

I don’t know about you, but after spending some time pondering these original lyrics, this song has now taken on a whole new depth of meaning for me and I love it even more!

Especially during this Christmas season, may our hearts and faces never stray from Jesus Christ, our Joy, as our soul rests and rejoices in Him.